I am not quite sure if I should have posted this here or somewhere else.
Yesterday I went with my eldest to the Midden Herenduinen, part of the Zuid Kennenerland National Park here in Holland. It was a dull grey day but we had a great time. There was so much fungi all over the place – I have never seen so much, if you stood and looked at the fallen leaves for long enough you could see it . We saw pestal puffballs, bracket fungus, mycena sp, sulphur tuft, amethyst deceivers (I think) and goodness knows what. The greatest find was a “Fairy Ring” which comprised of the Clouded Funnel fungi (Clitocybe nularis), the ring measured 4m across. Here is a photo of one from the Fairy ring.
There were still a few wildflowers around including lots Red Campion and some I have yet to ID. The rustling of the trees and the falling leaves sounded like running water.
I think my favourite sighting of the afternoon were three Green woodpeckers a first for me. We saw two together at the beginning of the walk and a single one later on. We also saw a Greater Spotted woodpecker and lots of robins.
As we were walking we saw something large ahead of us. At first I thought it was a deer bur then realized it was one of the Highland cattle that roam fee in the NP. We took some photos and were slowly approaching it as we had to pass it when we saw a second and third. Then we saw some on the other side of us , technically we were actually surrounded by at least ten of them. Luckily they were too busy eating than taking notice of us, those huge horns and their sheer size made it quite daunting.
You may think it’s strange to find Highland cattle in the wild in Holland but they do a very important job. This NP, is predominantly situated on sand dunes. Air pollution caused the dunes to become overgrown with grass and bushes, the local native plant species like the Parnasia and animals like sand lizards and rabbits which needed the open sandy spaces were in decline. Highland cattle, Shetland and Exmoor ponies and Scottish blackface sheep were introduced to graze and keep the grass and sapling growth down – hence giving the native species chance to recover. Rabbits are valued in the NP and were almost brought to extinction in these parts by hunting, so there was also a fall in the fox population – happily both are recovering these days. There are also European Bison in the park but they are much too dangerous to be in places accessible by the public.
Here is an image of one of the Highland cattle
It was a successful and pleasant way to spend the afternoon I look forward to my next visit.